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Before the world of travel starts to open up again, the Sustainable Travel Report 2021 by Booking.com reveals that travellers are more committed than ever to do so in a mindful way, with 88% of Indian travellers stating that the pandemic has influenced them to want to travel more sustainably in the future and 56% of Indian travellers admitting that the pandemic has shifted their attitude to make positive changes in their everyday lives, with recycling (30%) and reducing food waste (33%) being the top priorities at home.
In its 6th year now, the new research released today by Booking.com contains insights gathered from more than 29,000 travellers across 30 countries, suggests that the pandemic has been the tipping point for travellers to finally commit to their own sustainable journey, with 75% of Indian travellers believing people have to act now to save the planet for future generations.
Active Steps to Ensure Travel is Sustainable
According to the findings, travellers’ day-to-day sustainable commitments are consistent with their intentions for future trips, with 83% of Indian travellers wanting to reduce general waste, 84% wanting to reduce their energy consumption (e.g. by turning off air conditioning and lights when they are not in a room) and 80% wanting to use more environmentally friendly modes of transport such as walking, cycling or public transport over taxis or rental cars.
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Respect for local communities is also high on the list as 74% of Indian travellers want to have authentic experiences that are representative of the local culture when they travel, 91% believe increasing cultural understanding and preservation of cultural heritage is crucial and 89% want to ensure the economic impact of the industry is spread equally in all levels of society. Furthermore, 72% will go as far as avoiding popular destinations and attractions to ensure they aren’t contributing to overcrowding challenges and helping do their part to disperse the positive benefits of travel to less frequently visited destinations and communities.
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Overcoming Obstacles to Sustainable Travel
Fortunately, it’s not just good intentions. Many of these sustainable pledges are coming to fruition, with Indian travellers revealing that while on vacation in the past 12 months, 47% made a conscious decision to turn off their air conditioning/heater in their accommodation when they weren’t there, 48% took their own reusable water bottle, rather than buying bottled water while on vacation and 37% did activities to support the local community. In fact, 63% have admitted that they get annoyed if somewhere they are staying stops them from being sustainable, for example by not offering recycling facilities. The positive signs are indeed there, but there is still lots of room for improvement with more than half of travellers not yet thinking about the local community during their trips or taking these small steps to minimise their impact.
While 98% of Indian travellers say they want to stay in a sustainable accommodation in the upcoming year—barriers still remain with 26% of Indian travellers saying that they didn’t even know sustainable accommodation existed, 42% mentioning they couldn’t find any options where they were travelling and 35% claiming they didn’t know how to find them. In fact, 56% of them still believe that in 2021, there simply aren’t enough sustainable travel options available.
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Closing The Gap, One Step at a Time
Booking.com is currently rolling out a program for properties that will support them in taking the next steps to become more sustainable, no matter where they might be on that journey. This includes sharing guidance, insights and best practices with properties via various educational opportunities, including handbooks and dedicated content, all available via the Booking.com Partner Hub.
In connection, Booking.com is currently displaying over 30 certifications officially approved by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), Green Tourism and the EU Ecolabel, as well as multiple hotel chain sustainability programs. To complement this, Booking.com is also encouraging its accommodation partners to update their sustainability information, which includes 32 impactful practices across five key categories: waste, energy and greenhouse gases, water, supporting local communities and protecting nature.
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From this roll-out, several properties have already started sharing some of their sustainability information with Booking.com, which can be viewed on the ‘Sustainability initiatives’ banner on each of their property pages. While it’s still early days, this is an important first step in providing more sustainability information in a transparent way to consumers, ultimately making it easier for them to start making more sustainable travel choices.
Ritu Mehrotra, Regional Manager, South Asia, at Booking.com said, “Over the six years we’ve been conducting this research, it’s been inspiring to see awareness of the importance of sustainable travel consistently grow, both with our customers and now with our partners, too. We are constantly working towards supporting our partners in their efforts to become more sustainable, by encouraging them to identify, implement and share their sustainability practices with us. We thereafter highlight this information on our platform and ultimately make sustainability a transparent and easily identifiable part of our customers’ decision-making process. No matter where travellers or our accommodation partners might be on their sustainability journey, we want to encourage them to take the next step, so that together we can create a truly regenerative and responsible future for all travel.”
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